GHAZIABAD, Nov 24: For the first time, all SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries today came together and joined hands to undertake a massive field training exercise on combating an earthquake - like disaster with their specialised skills and gadgets.
The men and machine initiative is considered important and hosted by India as the eight member countries, by virtue of their unique geographical location, are vulnerable to various types of natural disasters which have devastated the SAARC region in the past and has claimed many lives.
Today's drill was part of the maiden four-day South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise (SAADMEx) which is being organised in the national capital region with the involvement of member nations under the SAARC banner-- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India.
A near identical scenario of an earthquake was created at a large expanse here comprising immovable and movable infrastructure and the member countries, under the overall supervision of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), not only gauged each others capabilities in this domain but also tried to create a synergy amongst themselves so that it can be used when it comes to dealing with a real life situation.
"The joint field exercise was conducted successfully today. The teams positively painted the real disaster-like scenario and hoped that the exercise was quite fruitful to the rescue teams of each SAARC nation and to understand mutual capabilities in this domain.
"The participants also had the exposure of international standard of response mechanism as envisaged by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA)," NDRF Director General O P Singh said.
He said all participating countries got to learn from each others best practises and a session for sharing notes based on these field exercises will be conducted on the last day of the SAADMEx.
While many teams exhibited their specialised equipments and skills in tackling such disasters, some of them participated by paying minute attention to the action being undertaken, a senior official involved in the exercise said.